Farewell Everton Weekes, my pal
Admiration for the great West Indies and Barbados champion batsman commenced on my 1973 tour and it only grew through the next 47 years
I wrote the first of a number of "Dear Everton" columns in December 1979. The columns afforded an opportunity for levity and were addressed to a mythical Caribbean character named Everton Valentine who'd migrated to Notting Hill in London.
I chose the name in honour of two great characters of West Indies cricket; champion batsman Everton Weekes [later knighted] and bespectacled left-arm spinner Alf Valentine.
I only met Alf once, along with Rod Marsh I was invited to his home in Jamaica in 1973. It was an enjoyable evening listen to Alf regale us with stories of the 1960-61 tied Test series and completed a memorable double in Kingston. Earlier in the week we'd chatted with the legendary George Headley who the locals honoured by dubbing Sir Donald Bradman "The white Headley".
A couple of weeks after those memorable evenings I had the great pleasure of meeting Everton. This is where my admiration for the man commenced and it only grew through the next forty seven years.
When we toured the Caribbean in 1973 Everton was involved with Alexandra's—a successful nightclub in Bridgetown. He was also a radio commentator working on cricket matches with the silky-voiced Tony Cozier. It was through 'Coze' that I met Everton and also discovered he was a champion bridge player and used to visit Canada to play in tournaments.
Back in 1991...
I caught up with Everton again in 1991 when I was working as a television commentator on the series between West Indies and Australia. Richie Benaud was also working on that series and he told me on a number of occasions that he thought; "Everton was the best of the three W's."
Benaud's opinion was later backed up by the great Australian all-rounder Keith Miller who played two series against Weekes; in 1951-52 and 1954-55 in the Caribbean.
What a series that must have been in 1954-55. Australia had a magnificent four-pronged pace attack with Miller, Ray Lindwall, Bill Johnston and Ron Archer.
The West Indies countered with four champion batsmen in Weekes, Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott and a young Garry Sobers. All four batsmen went on to be knighted. In 1972, just before I met Everton, I had an enjoyable evening in Manchester watching a talented English band called the Baron Knights; those four batsmen weren't the barren knights in 1954-55. In that five Test series they amassed 1733 runs between them, including six centuries.
In 2000 I had the great pleasure of travelling to the Caribbean with my wife Barbara-Ann to honour Sir Garry as a "Barbados Living Legend". Everton, along with a number of other Barbados champions were at the black-tie function and he looked really well at 74 years of age.
"You look good Everton," I greeted him, "what are you doing to keep in shape?"
"In the morning Ian, I swim with Wes [Hall]," replied Everton with his trademark grin and a drink in hand. "In the morning the fluid is on the outside, in the evening it's on the inside."
Quirky sense of humour
This typified Weekes; a grin, a drink and a joke and he was in his element. Later that evening I had another example of Everton's quirky sense of humour. Around 4 am Barbara-Ann tapped me on the shoulder and suggested it was time to get some sleep.
"How are you getting home?" asked Everton, a Banks beer in hand. "We'll just get a cab," I replied.
"You won't get a cab at this hour," he countered, "I'll drive you home."
"What about the breathalyser?" I gasped.
Everton took another sip of his beer and quipped; "Ian, we're too civilised to have a breathalyser in Barbados."
Weeks is one of only two men for whom I have broken my golden rule. I usually never drink alcohol while I'm working but I have done so on two occasions. The first time was for Lindsay Hassett in 1988 and the second was with Everton in the mid-nineties. They were a great pair of characters who could easily weaken the strongest resolve.
It was sad to hear of Everton's passing at age 95 but he wouldn't abide any long faces. Everton Weekes was a great Barbados champion who epitomised living life to the full.
Sir Vivian Richards@ivivianrichards:
Can’t believe the legendary Sir Everton Weekes is no more. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. One of the greatest cricketers from the country. A true icon. Rest In Peace, legend!
Sir Everton Weekes is no more! Had heard many stories about his batting along with the other Legendary 2Ws. You will be missed Sir. Rest In Peace.
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